NEON is a nonprofit organisation that works to bring contemporary culture closer to everyone. It is committed to broadening the appreciation, understanding, and creation of contemporary art in Greece and to the firm belief that this is a key tool for growth and development. NEON, founded in 2013 by collector and entrepreneur Dimitris Daskalopoulos, breaks with the conventional model of a contemporary art foundation limited to a single location. Acting within a multitude of initiatives, spaces, and civic and social contexts, it seeks to expose the power of contemporary art to stimulate, inspire, and affect both the individual and society at large. NEON constructively collaborates with public and private cultural institutions and supports programs that increase access and interaction with contemporary art.
Dimitris Daskalopoulos is a Greek entrepreneur and a collector of contemporary art. He is the founder and member of the board of DAMMA Holdings SA, a financial services and investment participations company. He served as the Chairman of the Board of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) for 8 consecutive years (2006-2014). He is today SEV’s Honorary President. From 1983 to 2007 he was the principal owner, Chairman and CEO of Delta Holdings later named Vivartia, the largest food conglomerate in Greece and the 35th biggest corporation in Europe.
Daskalopoulos is also a major collector of contemporary art. He is the caretaker of the D.Daskalopoulos Collection, Greece, and the founder of NEON, a non-profit institution based in Athens, Greece that since its founding in 2013 it is committed to bringing contemporary culture closer to everyone. He is also a Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Chairman of the Collections Council of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and an active member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Tate International Council and the Leadership Council of the New Museum and a founding partner of the Whitechapel’s Future Fund.
At the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation he has contributed to a discretionary curators’ fund for acquisitions, which he established as a gift to the Foundation. He has also been active in the support of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s acquisitions program through his membership of the International Director’s Council. In 2003, Mr. Daskalopoulos and the International Director’s Council jointly acquired Matthew Barney’s sculpture, Chrysler Imperial (2002), which is a partial promised gift to the museum. In 2017, the D.Daskalopoulos Collection created and funded a curatorial post at the museum, Daskalopoulos Curator, Contemporary Art. The position has been created in perpetuity, and is currently held by Guggenheim curator Katherine Brinson.
In 2010, the D.Daskalopoulos Collection founded the post of The Daskalopoulos Curator, International Art at Tate, to focus on contemporary and emerging international art, specifically from non-western regions, central to Tate’s commitment to broadening the geographical scope of its collection. The D.Daskalopoulos Collection continues to fund this post, now renamed The Daskalopoulos Senior Curator, International Art (Africa, Asia & Middle East), which is currently held by Clara Kim.
Dimitris Daskalopoulos is a founding partner of the Whitechapel’s Future Fund (2011). His funding has enabled the Whitechapel Gallery to realise 3 projects over 4 years: a permanent post, The Daskalopoulos Head of Education & Public Programmes, held by Sofia Victorino, who runs the Gallery’s programme of learning with talks, events, courses, schools, family and community programmes; a new initiative, the NEON Curatorial Award; and a cultural programme between Athens and London, the NEON Curatorial Exchange.
Dimitris Daskalopoulos is also a supporter of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. In 2015, the D.Daskalopoulos Collection created and funded a new post, The Daskalopoulos Curator of Engagement. Currently held by Mairi Lafferty, the new role is for an initial three year period, and aims to deepen public engagement with the Gallery’s public programme.
In 2014 Independent Curators International (ICI) honoured Dimitris Daskalopoulos with the 2014 Leo Award. The award acknowledged his visionary approach to collecting, through the D.Daskalopoulos Collection, and his work in establishing NEON.
Over the years he has contributed funds to facilitate exhibitions and acquisitions at major public art institutions worldwide, including Tate, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the New Museum, Carnegie International, the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Greece and the Athens Biennale.
His collection has been the subject of major exhibitions; the Guggenheim Bilbao presented “Luminous Interval” in 2010 and the Whitechapel Gallery on the same year presented “Keeping it Real: An Exhibition in Four Acts”. In 2012-2013 the National Gallery of Scotland presented the exhibition “From Death to Death and Other Small Tales” which paired works from the gallery’s permanent collection with a choice selection from that of Dimitris Daskalopoulos.
He is also the founder of DiaNEOsis, a research and policy institute based in Athens, Greece.